“Of course, we have facilities in Melbourne, and I’m sure that your new good friend Sam would tell you that they have good facilities in Sydney as well, to house primates.”
“I’m sensing there’s a ‘but’,” I admitted, before slurping my tea.
“Yes, there is, unfortunately,” Reuben confirmed.
“Just tell us,” Nanek begged.
Dad scraped a dollop of Vegemite out of the clear plastic jar and smeared it all over his slightly overcooked toast with a butter knife. He replaced the lid, then took a bite, and handed the Vegemite back to Adam.
“Well, it’s what I went through yesterday. Obtaining the permits isn’t as straightforward as we would like, because this is a separate system to get them here as to get them there.”
Reuben gesticulated to accentuate his point.
“I’ll do my best, of course.”
Another two slices popped out of the toaster, so that Mum and I could eat some breakfast.
“On that note, I really should be going to make calls.”
Reuben picked up his phone as he stood and excused himself, allowing us peace and quiet.
“Have you thought any more about this sanctuary idea?” I wanted to know.
The answer mattered. Mum continued preparing the toast, providing her a moment to think.
“That would be lovely, if that was possible,” she agreed, as she handed me my breakfast, “but I don’t know if that’s possible, whether that’s feasible for us, whether we would be allowed to. Even though it would be wonderful, I think that we should just trust Reuben. He’ll sort it out.”
That ended the conversation. I felt a little glum. Thankfully my toast tasted nice. I wondered what was happening back home. Patrick has likely been working, filling in the gaps from where I’d upped and left, unsure of if I would have a job to return to. Of course I hope that I do, and I guess that I expect that I do, although I really haven’t been in much contact with them since. It’s safe to say that there’s been a bit else going on. Once I finished my breakfast, I rinsed off the plate and slotted it into the dish drainer. We needed to get out to the enclosures to feed the animals, and ensure that they were going well.
“What do you need me to do?” I offered.
“Come with me,” Nanek urged.
I followed her outside, into the sticky heat. Nanek assured me that Mum loves me very much, and that she loves me very much, although I kept suspecting that she was about to change the subject. She told me that she would love to be able to keep working with the animals in whatever capacity is possible. Nanek is only doing this for their safety. She seemed to be tearing up a little, as we reached Laki and Mawar. I interjected, telling Nanek how sorry I feel. She changed the subject again, explaining the plan for feeding the animals. I knew some of it. There were nuances that I found myself picking up on, and quickly found myself yearning to be doing this for the rest of my life. I said nothing. Laki and Mawar seemed grateful for the feed, of fruit and flowers. Nanek lamented that their enclosure does not contain natural vegetation, which she attests is very important. I made a mental note of this, before chastising myself just as quickly for having the thought. These animals might come to Australia.
I asked Nanek, though, what she wants to happen from here. She confided that of course she wants the animals to come to Australia, if they cannot be home. I apologised again, feeling all the more sheepish for my giddiness, at having hope, at dreaming of what the future could become. We moved onto the next enclosure, holding the group of western tarsiers. Usually they are solitary animals. Nanek lamented that they are being housed together. There once were five of them, but one died in transit, leaving Sumatra. The animals require particular temperatures, in contrast to the planes trying to keep their cargo cool. That would be a challenge were the animals to be brought to Hobart, perhaps a bridge too far. We got on with the day’s work, instead of dreaming of what would never be.
Jumilah Fioray is a recent high school graduate from lutruwita, Tasmania. Her parents, Catherine and Adriano Fioray, met at the University of Melbourne in the 1990s and returned to Hobart after finishing their degrees, where they raised their daughter and worked in agriculture. Jumilah's passion for conservation reflects her grandparents' work running a sanctuary in Sumatra.
Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a creative writing, law and theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Abbey has long had a passion for the weird and the wonderful of stories, sport and zoo animals. 'From the Wild' is her first anthology.